Thursday, July 31, 2008

Marie Osmond, Irene Spillane, and Me

Marie Osmond and I share the same birthday -- October 13.

However, I am exactly one year older than she is.

Still, I've always felt a kinship with her and have followed her career from the time she hit the music charts with "Paper Roses"...through the Donny and Marie Show...the short-lived sitcom with Betty White (anyone remember that?)...even the doll-selling era. And last year I was delighted to learn she was going to compete on TV's Dancing with the Stars.

The day after she debuted on the show, I visited a few of the internet message boards to see what people were saying. The very first message I read said, "Who the (bleep) is Marie Osmond?" The next message said, "I've never even heard of that old lady."

That old lady?

Can you imagine how Marie would have felt if she read that remark?

Can you imagine how I felt, knowing I was a year older than that old lady?

I'm thinking about this because I just added a new book to my collection -- A BIRTHDAY GARLAND compiled by Elinor Parker and illustrated by someone who went by the single name "Primrose."

I did a little research and learned that Elinor Milnor Parker (1906-2001) worked in the children's book department at Scribner's Book Store for fifteen years and then became an editor at Charles Scribner's Sons for the rest of her lengthy career. I still don't know who that "Primrose" is though.

The reason I purchased this book is because it was presented as a gift to those who attended the 1950 Newbery-Caldecott Banquet -- the year Marguerite de Angeli won the Newbery for THE DOOR IN THE WALL and Leo Politi got the Caldecott for SONG OF THE SWALLOWS.

There is a note attached to the illustrated endpapers (which feature a tree weathering the four seasons) that says: THIS KEEPSAKE / OF THE NEWBERY-CALDECOTT DINNER / HELD IN CLEVELAND, OHIO, ON JULY 18, 1950 / IS GIVEN BY THE THOMAS Y. CROWELL COMPANY / TO CELEBRATE THE FIFTIETH BIRTHDAY OF / THE CHILDREN'S LIBRARY ASSOCIATION.

You can click on this image to get a better view of the presentation:

This pocket-sized volume, nicely illustrated with seasonal black-and-white and color drawings, contains a quote or verse for every day of the year from Dinah Marie Mulock's sentiment for January 1:

Who comes dancing over the snow,
His soft little feet all bare and rosy?
Open the door though the wild winds blow,
Take the child in and make him cozy.
Take him in and hold him dear,
He is the wonderful glad New Year.

to Alfred, Lord Tennyson's familiar "Ring out the old, ring in the new" verse for December 31.

Here's the entry for today, and isn't it appropriate?

You'll notice that each date has a couple blank lines beneath, for filling in the birthdays of family and friends. The book's previous owner made good use of these blank lines, adding birthdays on many of the pages. The oldest person listed is Perley E. Jeffery, who was born December 17, 1878. The youngest is Peter Jeffery, born January 5, 1960 -- showing that the owner was still using this volume ten years after receiving it at ALA.

Of course my favorite entry is this one for Irene Ellen Spillane, who has something in common with me and Marie Osmond.

I've blocked off the actual year of Irene Spillane's birth for the simple fact that she's about my mother's age -- and if I ever posted my mother's age on this blog she would hit me with a shoe. Since Ms. Spillane may be similarly skittish about revealing her age, I've decided that discretion may be the better part of valor. But let's just say that Irene is a lot older than either Marie or me.

I've never attended a Newbery-Caldecott Dinner, but am glad I've been able to pick up souveniers from some of these events -- including this 1950 dinner which occured long before I was born. I wonder how many copies of A BIRTHDAY GARLAND were handed out that night? I wonder how many of them are still around today? I wonder if anyone thought to pass their copy around and have all the notables in attendance sign the pages?

And is that copy out there somewhere, waiting for discovery?

Maybe someday you or I (or Marie or Irene) will stumble across another "keepsake" copy in a used bookstore, open it up, and find that Marguerite de Angeli has signed her name under the entry for March 14 and Leo Politi has added his signature under November 21.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Peter, Peter,Peter your mother ought to hit you with her foot in that shoe!